How Long Will We Keep Dancing to Washington's Tune?

October 30, 2014

The Schiller Institute held a ground-breaking conference on Oct. 18-19th, in Frankfurt Germany, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Institute. At that occasion, Ray McGovern delivered a speech about the role of Empire in the world, and the role of citizens upholding their basic civic duties, especially when facing fascist elements either at home or abroad. We include the transcript of Mr. McGovern's speech here at it relates to two other developments, the revelation that the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, has full access to NSA data, at anytime, without a warrant. There is a brief report on that material below Mr. McGovern's speech, as well as a review of the recent film by Laura Poitras, CITIZENFOUR, about Edward Snowden and the continuing impact of his revelations about the NSA.

Mr. McGovern is a former CIA analyst, and the co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Mr. McGovern's speech on Panel II of the Oct. 18-19 Schiller Institute conference was titled "How Long Will the 'Sovereign Republics' of Europe Keep Dancing to Washington's Tune?"

I was very moved by Die Schöpfung, the Haydn Creation piece that was sung and played early this morning. And I would remind folks that, right before that particular section, where they're talking about "eine neue Welt" [a new world], and "Ordnung keimt empor" ["Disorder yields to order"] right before that, there's a very moving and a very somber and almost silent introduction [he sings:] "und Gott sprach: Es werde Licht! Und es ward Licht." [and God spoke: "Let there be light! And there was light."] I was hoping that those of you in the choir would come out...

And Licht just, just streams out there, and you can start to begin about "eine neue Welt," which is, I think, what we're all about it here. Creating conditions that will keep us from descending into some of the things we've seen over the past 12 [years], and then over the past century, over the past 10 years or so.

So let me start by thanking those who invited me, especially for the music. I want to thank my predecessor, the Colonel [Alain Corvez], who laid the foundation of what I wanted to say, and laid it far better than I could say it, and I want to associate myself with his remarks. And I just want to point out that the people who are running our policy toward the Middle East are really strong on rhetoric, but not so strong on good sense. It's really nice, for example, to have alliteration. Remember what was going to happen to the Taliban? We were going to be "degrading, dismantling, and destroying" the Taliban. That was 2009. Now, we're going to be "degrading," for some reason, not "dismantling," but ultimately, "destroying," al-Qaeda and ISIL, and so forth, like that.

Well, how are we going to do that? Well, the Colonel had some good, sensible observations; but when you hear very, very insane comments, like "Well, we're not really worried about ISIL getting very close to the airport there, or taking over Anbar province in the West," the only reason we care about it is because of its "close proximity to Baghdad."

Hello?! What they're saying there of course is: ISIL is on Baghdad's doorstep, but they're still trying to minimize the significance, because, quite frankly, they don't know what to do. The President says, "No boots on the ground," and as we've all acknowledged, I believe, that there have to be boots on the ground. The question is, whose boots? Who makes them? Are they Turkish boots? I don't think so. And so, whose boots are they going to be?

So it's in complete disarray, our policy toward that part of the world, the amateurs are in charge. And you know, if David Petraeus, the patron saint of all counterinsurgency, and the trainer, par excellence, of the Iraqi Army—if he can't train them so that they don't run away as soon as somebody from ISIL shoots an AK-47 at them, if Petraeus can't do it—I say this jokily of course—nobody can do it. It's hardly Petraeus's fault: you can't train cousins to kill their cousins! It's as simple as that; and if we didn't learn that in Vietnam, you know, we are really, really dense. So, so much for this amateurish business.

- Treaty of Westphalia: It's Over -

I'd like to go a little broader now and talk about the Treaty of Westphalia, which was mentioned earlier today by Helga. It's over, folks! That Treaty is over! Now we have superpowers; we don't have to bother with treaties like that. As a matter of fact, that goes hand-in-hand with something even older, and that is something that we will be celebrating next year. I'll give you a hint: It's the 800th anniversary. What would that be? The Magna Carta. Right. Somebody said it up front.

So, now, how are we going to celebrate the Magna Carta? We're going to say, "Oh, that was really neat, when those English noblemen faced up to King John, and wrested those rights. That was nice, but that was then. Now, we really will have a funeral for the Magna Carta, or an inquest, or something that indicates that it's dead and gone, just like the Treaty of Westphalia, and, you know, habeas corpus! That was a quaint idea; that's by the board now. We don't have to really observe that, or act by it."

So, things have become pretty bad. And, the first lesson of learning or wisdom, is to learn from mistakes, and to learn from things that have gotten pretty bad.

Now, I have to really suppress a laugh when I hear the President get up—our President, President Barack Obama—at the UN, and say: "The three greatest threats to the world are Ebola, Russian aggression, and ISIL." Wow! Russian aggression! Putin made a speech, or gave an interview, just this week, where he said: "Anybody who doesn't recognize that all the problems in Ukraine, the recent problems, stem from the putsch, stem from the coup d'état on Feb. 22, isn't living in the real world." That's where it started!

And what was mentioned before, with respect to Crimea, well, I got asked on BBC: "Well, Mr. McGovern, how do you feel about Putin seizing Crimea? The aggression there?" I said: Well, why are you asking me about the fourth inning?"

[bbc:]"Uh, I beg your pardon?"

I said: "Why are you coming into the game in the middle?"

[bbc:] "What d'you mean?" I said: "Well, it all started, on Feb. 22, when there was a putsch! When there was a coup d'état! That's when it started! There is not one scintilla of evidence that Putin, or any of his associates, ever gave a thought to taking over Crimea, until Feb. 22, when it seemed to make good sense, given the rot that came into power, under the supervision of Victoria Nuland, our Secretary of State for European Affairs, who used the 'F' word—some of you know the 'F' word"—with respect to the EU. She said 'F the EU.' How did Angela Merkel [react], how did the other big shots of the EU react? There's no record that they said anything. [bbc:] "Oh, well, Okay...?"

When are the major countries, or even the minor countries, of the EU going to grow up? The war was over 70 years ago, folks. And we need you to grow up, we Americans. Why? Because we need you to help us understand what can happen when the Magna Carta, the Treaty of Westphalia, and our own Constitution, are under siege. I do not exaggerate.

- Fascism, Updated -

Now, I was alive for World War II, I was pretty little, but I was alive for the whole thing, and I remember the postwar celebrations, and I remember how grateful Europeans were—my first visit, when I was in college. Well, now it's your turn. I'm not supposed to say this "F" word—this "F" word has a small "f," and it's fascism. People identify fascism with concentration camps. And that's too bad, because it's quite separate and distinct.

Now I'd like to show you a couple of videos. 11. Conference videos are available on the Schiller Institute New Paradigm website. if they work, to show you how fascism is impersonated, or personified, better word, by some of our leaders, one of whom, the first one, used to be head of NSA, and then CIA, "for services rendered," and now he's a big talking head, as we say. On CNN, Fox News, he explains everything about what's going on. His name is Michael Hayden. And, ironically, the same name as the good Josef Haydn, with whom we started this morning [technical problems with video; see below]....

Let me just tell you what General Hayden says. He's up there explaining why it was that they violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects us all from illegal searches and seizures, and he's asked by Jonathan Landay, one of the real wonderful reporters, who saw through Iraq before Iraq, and said that it was a fool's errand, and based on falsified intelligence, and somebody asked General Hayden: "Why do you keep saying 'reasonable suspicion,' when the Fourth Amendment says that there has to be 'probable cause' before you eavesdrop on Americans?"

And the answer he gives is "What?! The Fourth Amendment doesn't say 'probable cause'!" Now, those of you who know the Fourth Amendment know that probable cause is the basis for our freedoms under the Fourth Amendment. And so he says without any recourse, and everybody kind of says "Okay." And guess what? It was at the National Press Club, so there were some, would you say, journalists there, yeah, there were journalists there, and nobody put it in the paper the next day. That's how bad it is, folks.

- In Their Own Words -

[Shows a video of National Intelligence Director James Clapper being questioned by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), March 12, 2013:]

Senator Wyden: This is for you again, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front, and I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Senator Feinstein wants to move on. Last Summer, the NSA Director was at a conference, and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, "The story that we have millions, or hundreds of millions, of dossiers on people is completely false."

The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a "dossier" is in this context. So, what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?

Director Clapper: No, sir.

Wyden: It does not?

Clapper: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.

Wyden: Thank you. I'll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer.

Hayden video begins:

Jonathan Landay: ...My understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use...

General Hayden: No, actually—the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

Landay: But the—

Hayden: That's what it says.

Landay: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

Hayden: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

Landay: But does it not say probable—

Hayden: No. The amendment says—

Landay: The court standard, the legal standard—

Hayden: —unreasonable search and seizure.

Landay: The legal standard is probable cause....

Hayden: ...Just to be very clear, okay—and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment.

MSNBC announcer: To quote the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in its entirety, the one the General and the NSA folks are so familiar with and know is about "reasonableness," and not about "probable cause": "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" [emphasis added—ed.]

Well, maybe they have a different Constitution over there at the NSA.

McGovern: So they have their own Constitution over there, at NSA.

Now of course, James Clapper, the head of National Intelligence, was sacked as soon as he lied under oath, correct? No! This was a year-and-a-half ago, March of last year. Who's the director of National Intelligence now? Anybody know? Same guy! James Clapper! Who is the big talking head on CNN? Who's the man respected that you go to for answers on this? General Hayden.

So, what I'm saying here, folks, is that we have the foxes in charge of the chicken coop. And we have a President who is unwilling to stand up to his own security services, and, in a way, to his own generals.

- Martial Law in America? -

Now, what does that mean for our internal situation? That means, that the nervous breakdown that we had after 9/11 continues, and the American people, because of the terrible press, the terrible malnourishment that the American people get from the mainstream press, they don't really know what to believe. When they're told ISIL is a threat to our country, they tend to believe that because they're so afraid. You would think that after 12 years they wouldn't be so afraid, but they are. And people play on this. And people employ lawyers, distinguished lawyers, to write new rules, or get people to make maneuvers around rules.

A friend of mine, Todd Pierce, who is an attorney, and actually, he still has a live Guantánamo defendant case—he was one of the few lawyers that actually got one of his detainees freed and back to Africa—he talks about this: Under the Nazis, the law was used to demand absolute loyalty to the Führer, and to the State. Anything less was considered treason.

Ernst Fraenkel described the system: Martial law provides the constitution of the Third Reich—the constitution. With martial law came surveillance, necessary to detect enemies of the State.

How many of you are familiar with a book that came out, a diary, by a fellow named Raimund Pretzel—Haffner was his pen name? He was a lawyer who grew up in Berlin; in 1933, he watched all the goings-on. He was training to be a judge. And he would come to the office, as all these Blackshirts were wreaking their wares there, and he would say, "Aren't you disturbed about this?" And they'd say, "Well, no, the Reichstag has just burned down, and so, we fully expect that our desks will be searched, that our telephones will be tapped, and there will be infringements on our freedoms. 'Why do you have a Neues Deutschland there? Why are you reading communist propaganda?'"

And so the way Raimund Pretzel describes it, he says that: "You know, we Germans watched what was going on as if from a box at the theater."

And I'm afraid that that typifies the way most Americans look at what's going on in our own country, because this martial law is what rules in our country now. Would you believe it? Well, believe it! Because it's true. Martial law. The legacy of our Civil War, to which the lawyers are going back now; [they] are saying that the crimes under martial law that the U.S. was under, and is under now, are "all acts of hostility to the country, to the government, to any department or officer that have the effect of opposing, embarrassing, defeating, or even interfering with our military or naval operations." Wow!

So, if you embarrass the government, you're liable to be put in Guantánamo? That sounds like a stretch, doesn't it? But under the law, somebody from Wiesbaden or Mannheim could come here from the U.S. Army and pick me up now and put me in detention without trial, without charge, without jury. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true; that's legal now. Okay?

- Without Action, Nothing Will Happen -

Now, what does that leave? That leaves an imperative on the part of the rest of us to do what we can to expose this, first off, so people know what's going on, and then, you know, we have to put our bodies into it. What I'm saying here, is what Cesar Chavez, one of our big civil rights leaders, used to say: "Look, op-eds are really great, speeches are even better, but without action, nothing is going to happen."

What am I saying here? I'm saying here, that you have some wonderful, wonderful examples to follow. First and foremost, I think of Sophie Scholl, and I see a lot of young people here, not as young as she was—she was 21, almost 22, when she was arrested for non-violent opposition to the Nazi regime, at the University of Munich, and you know how they killed her? Anybody? Guillotine. Something that the Germans learned from the French, I guess.

Well, they got more civilized towards the end of the war and when [dietrich] Bonhoeffer was wrapped up, and others, they had two other methods of killing, that was, one, shooting, and the other one was hanging. Now, the idea here, is that Sophie recognized what was going on, she was guided by her conscience, she was a Lutheran, and she was a very pious, or devoted, Lutheran, and I don't know if you read this, but this is something that Martin Luther wrote in one of his letters, it's very brief, and he's directing the Christians, you know.

But my idea is that, what I like to do, is quote Kurt Vonnegut, one of our wonderful novelists. He was asked one time: "What do you think of Jesus of Nazareth?" And he said: "Well, I don't know if he was God or not, but, you know, if it weren't for the Sermon on the Mount, I think I'd just as soon be a cockroach."

So, people have told me, "Look, there are basic moral principles, people know what's right, what's wrong; being a Christian, being a follower of Jesus, who was tortured to death, that may be a special thing for you, McGovern, but we don't need that to understand what's wrong and what's right."

Here is what Martin Luther said: "If I profess with the loudest voice every portion of the truth of God, except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I'm not confessing Christ, however boldly I may [be] professing him. Where the battle rages, where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all other parts of the battlefield, but not where the battle rages, that is mere flight and disgrace if one flinches at that point."

Sophie Scholl didn't flinch. And I was amazed to find out how little I knew about Sophie Scholl, because I lived a block away from where she was held, Stadelheimer Gefängnis, in München, and I lived two blocks away from the Friedhof, the graveyard where she's buried. And I knew nothing about her proximity to me in those days.

- There Is Great Hope -

I'm running out of time here, so let me close, here, and just say a few things about what I think we need to do.

When I was beaten up for simply standing with my back to Hillary Clinton, who was then the Secretary of State, standing up quietly, not saying anything, not having anything, signs or anything, I was beaten up pretty badly. My Veterans for Peace colleagues sent out information to the press saying, "McGovern is 71 years old, and he's been around a while; actually, he served in the government; he used to brief Presidents," and so forth.

Well, the press didn't take much heat about "briefing Presidents," but what caught their eye was "71 years old." And guess what? I don't know how it is here in Europe, but in America, people don't like to see old people get beat up. How do I know that? Hillary Clinton received thousands and thousands of telephone calls and telegrams and emails saying "What are you beating up an old man for?" Fox News said: "An elderly man was escorted out of the room." Well, that was hurtful, "elderly man," but "escorted out the room"—take a look how and see how I was And so, what I'm saying here, is that old people like me, you have an advantage.

I see maybe other people almost as old as I am—if you have some gray in your hair, put your body into it. People don't like old people to get beat up. Young people: "Uh, they have it coming to them," right? So put your body into it, use what you have.

Now, you young people! You got really good models here. You got Sophie Scholl, 21, 22; you've got Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning, who was 22 when he did his deed, you have Edward Snowden who was 29—there is great hope.

There is great hope that we can escape the rut that we are in, because not only are young people more courageous these days—a small number of them, at least—but they're highly technically proficient, and governments cannot run without thousands of highly proficient young people, and that means that if there's just one Ed Snowden in a thousand, the people who are trying to run this world are in deep trouble. So, if you have a conscience, make sure you speak out, make sure you arrange things with a small group of sympathetic people, where you can decide on what to do, and then hold one another responsible and accountable for going out and doing it.

I'd like to show these last two images. I just wanted to show you, what we don't see, what we used to see from Vietnam, but when you have a country that has suffered a nervous breakdown, and you send a poverty draft of soldiers there without due reason, this is what happens. It's Tal Afar; this is an iconic picture. 22. The Battle of Tal Afar, Iraq took place in September 2005. For copyright reasons, we cannot reproduce these photos, however, they are visible in the video of McGovern's speech, soon to be posted here It's early in the war. This little girl just was sitting on the backseat of her car, her mother and father were killed immediately by American soldiers who thought they were running up a blockade; and that's the blood of her parents. She lost, I think, four other siblings, and not only was she brutalized here, but take a look at that boot, that leg, what's happened to that young man? You know? And so the people we send off to these things, are brutalized just as badly as the young girl there. She was six years old. She did survive; she was the only one of her family to survive.

Now, I want to show you the next picture. Okay, now, we all rejoice in young children. These are two cousins who just had their little baby brother. That's what we should have in view for our country and for the world, not the first picture I showed. And so, it behooves us all to remember, to bring these pictures into our consciousness, and remember that just because people don't look like us, doesn't mean they aren't fully human and don't deserve the same treatment that we would wish for our children.

That's about all that I'd like to say, but I thank you very much for your attention.

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